Embarrassing fact #1: I literally made and photographed these PB&J Bars more than a year ago, and then somehow never got around to posting them.
Embarrassing fact #2: This is so not a one-time scenario. Somewhere in the mess of 3 scribbly recipe notebooks, 2 computers full of photos, and 1 jumbled brain, I have a solid stack of recipes that have yet to be shared, many of which I’ve temporarily forgotten about.
The thing is, (although it might seem totally obvious), I started this blog mostly because I really love to bake, so even when I can’t find time to take pictures or write posts or even attempt to keep up with all the social media stuff that I halfway understand, I pretty much always find time to bake. And because of that, there are tons of things I’ve made that are in some stage of the process that will eventually lead to another new post, but sometimes they get stuck in that process for wayyyy longer than I would like.
Even though it took me just over a year to actually post these bars, the recipe is one of those that I wish they could all be like, where everything works out perfectly the first time, the end result is a smashing success, and I don’t spend weeks obsessing over how to fix what isn’t quite right yet. Plus, I never really forgot about them, and all year long I was randomly thinking, “I really need to post those PB&J bars”. The fact that I’m finally doing it makes me feel pretty accomplished for a Monday!
When I made these, I actually made them with my dad in mind, but secretly with myself in mind as well (hah!). I get my total love for peanut butter from him, and as much as I’ll whole-heartedly mix peanut butter with bananas and nutella or any form of chocolate, there’s something sweet and nostalgic about the classic combination of peanut butter and jelly that always keeps me coming back. These bars are like the cookie form of a PB&J sandwich, with a soft, tender peanut butter cookie base layered with a bright burst of fruity jelly and topped with peanut butter cookie crumbles. They’re just the right amount of sweet to be as good for dessert as they are for a special breakfast treat, and the simple perfection of peanut butter and jelly flavor shines through every bite. For those days when you just need something easy and comforting and a little sweet, these are just the thing. In a way, they’re almost as classic as a chocolate chip cookie… almost.
The Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars are like a PB&J sandwich in cookie form, with a soft and rich peanut butter cookie base topped with a bright layer of sweet jelly and extra cookie crumbles.
- 6 3/8 ounces (1 1/2 cups, spoon and level) all-purpose flour, divided
- 4 1/4 ounces (1 cup) whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 ounces (5 tablespoons) butter, softened, divided
- 5 ounces (2/3 cup, packed) brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 9 ounces (1 cup) creamy peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 10 1/4 ounces (1 cup) jelly (flavor of choice)
- Preheat oven to 350ºF and line an 8" square pan with foil, leaving a foil overhang on opposite sides of the pan. Grease foil with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, whisk together 4 1/4 ounces (1 cup, spoon and level) all-purpose flour with the whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a handheld electric mixer), cream together 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) butter and brown sugar. Wiping down the bowl and beater as needed, beat in the eggs one at a time, until well-combined. Add the peanut butter and vanilla extract and beat in until evenly incorporated.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix in at lowest speed until just combined. Set aside 7 ounces (3/4 cup) batter. Press remaining batter into the bottom of the prepared pan, using your hands to spread the dough across the entire surface of the pan in an even layer. Lay a sheet of parchment over the dough and use your hands to smooth and flatten out the surface of the dough. Pour jelly on top and spread evenly over the surface (or just tilt the pan around to spread it out in an even layer). Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the remaining 2 1/8 ounces (1/2 cup, spoon and level) all-purpose flour and 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) butter to the reserved cookie batter, rubbing in with your hands until the butter and flour have disappeared into the mixture and the entire mixture is crumbly, with no large pieces of dough remaining. Place in the freezer while bars are baking.
- Once the first 15 minutes of baking are done, sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the bars. It will look like a lot, but be sure to use it all. Bake for another 15 minutes. The crumble topping should just barely be starting to crisp up and turn slightly golden. Cool bars completely, and then use foil to lift from the pan and slice. Store in an airtight container.